This guidance was last updated on the 1st March 2021
Alfred Place’s four step strategy for reducing restrictions while minimising risk has been based on the Welsh Government’s guidance under the Covid alert levels, which reflect the changing public health situation in Wales.
In light of the improving health situation in Wales, where the number of positive Covid cases continues to decrease, the Welsh Government has announced that from the 28th February, face masks will no longer be required in places of worship. This improving situation means that we are now considering moving to the fourth step in our Covid risk assessment.
These four steps for reducing restrictions have been communicated to members, firstly by way of an overview to inform and prepare members of our intended response to future Welsh Government changes and again, each time we have proposed moving to the next step.
Regular communication with members has been a key part of the church’s strategy for managing risks relating to Covid. Following the Welsh Government’s latest announcement, with changes taking effect from the 28th February, a further member’s information meeting has been arranged to discuss moving to step four (see below).
As with previous amendments to the Guidance, the Welsh Government continue to recommend, in addition to vaccination, the following measures to help keep others safe:
- get tested and self-isolate, even for mild symptoms
- meet outside, it is safer than inside
- limit the time and number of people you interact with
- take regular lateral flow tests if you don’t have any symptoms and on days when you’re seeing other people who are at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19
- keep your distance when you can
- wash your hands and wear a face mask
Moving to Step 4 of the Risk Assessment means that booking for services and wearing of face masks will no longer be legally required but we will continue to monitor Welsh Government guidance and share the above recommendations with the church so that they can make informed decisions when attending in person services. We will also continue to offer an extended seating zone for anyone who would like to reserve a seat by booking in advance.
This COVID-19 plan and risk assessment will enable Alfred Place Church to meet its legal duty to protect all people who come into our building from harm and sets out the reasonable steps to protect those attending the church building.
Following the successful return to the church building, there is a need to consider how to reduce restrictions while minimising risk. A revised system is needed to reduce the burden on the return to church team, welcome more people to hear the gospel and caring for those who are vulnerable or anxious.
Through all these steps we will monitor the air quality and ventilation–making adaptations as necessary. The booking system will be retained as long as it is needed to manage space, child care and anxiety.
Step Summary (previous steps in grey / proposed next step in blue)
Step 1 – Communication and Booking system
- Future changes to be relayed to members from the pulpit and repeated on the website
- Booking form on the website not via email
- Digital/contactless offering
- Attendees to be given pew numbers not seated by stewards
- Entry and exit to be less formal
Step 2 – Increasing capacity and reducing social distancing with zones
- Two zones with different levels of social distancing
- One further zone for walk-ins
Steps 3 – Increase opportunities to meet together
- Attendees not asked to leave after the service ends
- Other meetings to be held in the church
Step 4 – All restrictions lifted
- No Social distancing
- No booking
- Hand sanitising not required but kept available
- No face masks needed
Proposed steps for reducing restrictions in more detail (previous steps in grey / proposed next step in blue)
The following steps are designed to gradually reduce restrictions, allowing the return to church group (welcome team) and attendees to adapt to the changes. Each change will be predicated on submission to the Elders for approval and communication with the membership.
STEP 1: Communication & Booking System –
It is intended that future changes relating to attendance and use of the church building will be published on the Alfred Place website and/or from the pulpit and weekly church meetings rather than at a specially arranged meeting for members. This is to ensure that important messages are conveyed to those planning to attend the church building, many of whom are not members. Access to the online booking form will also be made available through the website and will no longer be sent by email.
The online booking form will be adapted to provide information about attendance at morning and/or evening services and to provide further information about an attendees preferred seating arrangements – to sit separately or with other specified individuals.
Entry and exit strategies will be less formal and with reduced waiting outside. The welcome team will be responsible for managing entry and exit into the building and for avoiding high traffic areas, particularly in the porch and on the steps. Caring for the elderly and infirm will be the new priority and this should be the responsibility of all members.
The pews will be numbered with attendees finding their own numbered pew rather than being shown to their seats. This will reduce pressure on the welcome team.
We intend to offer digital/contactless offering.
STEP 2: Increasing capacity and reducing social distancing
We intend to create 3 zones with the hope of catering for various needs.
Zone 1: The far left hand side of the church will be a zone will retain the current 2.4 meter distance (2 pews).
Zone 2: The right hand side of the church will change to 1.6 meters between pews with reduced social distancing
Zone 3: If possible, pews will be reserved in the main area and gallery for those who have not booked in advance. They will be informed of the procedures by the welcome team before being seated
STEP 3: Increasing opportunities to meet together
We intend to allow access to the building during the week for the regular meetings of the church, including prayer meetings, men’s and women’s meetings. A blended approach allowing access from home will be prioritised.
Attendees to stay in the church after the service has finished to allow for fellowship when the weather is bad.
STEP 4: No restrictions
Ongoing monitoring of government guidance
ADDED: We will continue to offer an extended zone which can be reserved in advance through an amended booking form
The following risk assessment has been adapted from the previous version in light of the reduced legal framework
Useful links: * Some of these links have not been updated
Places of worship and funerals: potential reasonable measures action card (coronavirus) [HTML] | GOV.WALES
Risk Assessment Summary:
“Risk” is a statement of the situation before you take mitigating actions
“Impact” is your assessment of the impact that the risk will have, if it were to occur, in your situation – assessed against the relevant axis of matrix opposite
“Likelihood” is your assessment of the likelihood that the risk will materialise before you take any mitigating actions – again measured against the scale in the matrix
“Mitigation” is a list of actions that you will take to reduce the Impact and Likelihood of the Risk
|Attendees introducing Covid into the building||3||3||9||Use signage to remind people before entering the building that they should not enter if they are symptomatic communicate to members and congregants through pulpit announcements and/or meetings|
|Contracting or spreading coronavirus by not washing hands or not washing them adequately||3||3||9||Hand sanitisers will be provided at the entrance|
|Contracting or spreading coronavirus by not cleaning surfaces, equipment, shared items etc||2||3||6||Hymns will continue to be projected for the foreseeable futureThe building will be cleaned weekly|
|Contracting or spreading the virus by close contact||3||3||9||An ‘extended zone’ will be provided for those who would prefer to maintain increased social distancing Guidance will be shared with members and on the church websiteFace masks are no longer mandatory but are recommended and a supply will be available.|
|People weary of restrictions leading to apathy about the risk.||3||3||9||Consideration will be given to the elderly and infirm to ensure that they are able to use the hand rails and ramps where necessary. Ventilation has improved, allowing people to remain in the building for fellowship.|
|Poorly ventilated spaces leading to risks of coronavirus spreading||2||3||6||Windows and doors (except fire doors) will be opened to allow ventilation Ventilation will be monitored by monitoring CO2 levels. A fan has been installed to further improve ventilation|
|Increased ventilation may reduce temperatures in the building to an uncomfortable level||4||2||6||The fan improving ventilation will allow the doors to be closed for longer periods during the service, reducing heat loss.|
|Contracting or spreading coronavirus during activities which spread droplets over a larger area e.g singing||3||3||9||CO2 levels at different points in the service will show impact of singing on air quality|
|People who remain at home suffering from isolation||4||3||12||The services will continue to be broadcastAn extended zone’ will be maintained to encourage more anxious people to attend. Cases continue to fall across the country with the|
|People who are returning after a long period of absence being anxious or nervous||3||3||9||Changes will be communicated to the church about the changesThe extended zone will be maintained|